NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Rescuing At-Risk Rich Kids

October 2, 2002

A whole new industry is springing up to save the troubled children of the wealthy from self-destruction. Perhaps a hard-charging father was too involved in his business, or a mother too committed to her social calendar to pay sufficient attention to their offspring -- until it was too late. The child starts experimenting with drugs or gets into other trouble.

But now there are a host of new residential treatment facilities offering help, for a price.

  • Each year, 10,000 kids attend private residential programs to get off drugs and deal with emotional and psychological problems.
  • Fixing bad kids from wealthy families is a $2 billion-a-year industry and growing fast.
  • Some 115 such programs are listed by the trade group, National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs.
  • Add in organizations that are not members of NATSAP, and you have some 300 private programs that are treating kids -- up tenfold since 1993.

The centers detoxify those on drugs, provide counseling and often employ wilderness programs to build self-esteem and self-confidence. But the cost can be prohibitive to families on a budget. Treatment can cost up to $200,000 -- almost twice the cost of a Harvard degree.

Source: Erika Brown, "When Rich Kids Go Bad," Forbes, October 14, 2002.


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